Expressing dissatisfaction over the slow progress in forming the National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid), Union home minister P Chidambaram said he “would like decisions to be made more quickly”.
Natgrid is a centralised database that enables government agencies to track suspicious people and transactions. For instance, it could have prevented the erroneous most-wanted list India handed over to Pakistan recently.
Though considered a crucial pillar of the country’s new security architecture announced after the 26/11 terror attacks, the cabinet committee on security (CCS) has not taken up a detailed project report on Natgrid five months after it was readied.
Chidambaram — rated the best performing minister in a survey Hindustan Times conducted across 14 cities, interviewing more than 10,000 people on the eve of the second anniversary of the UPA-2 government — hoped the Natgrid would become a reality in the third year. “I would like outcomes to be more visible.”
The turf war between government agencies and ministries has frozen the move to redesign the security architecture, which also involves the setting up of an overarching national counter-terrorism centre (NCTC). “It would be good for the country if in UPA-2’s third year, Natgrid becomes a reality and work on constructing the NCTC begins and makes some progress.”
The home minister said consultations on the Natgrid with the ministries of finance and defence are progressing. “They have expressed some concern. The MHA and especially the CEO of Natgrid have tried to allay those fears. The next is a formal meeting of the ministries to discuss these concerns at length and come to a decision. I think we are moving towards that point now,” Chidambaram said.
The CCS is likely to decide on the issue on May 30.
Chidambaram dismissed as “deliberate and mischievous” reports suggesting a rift between him and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. Chidambaram quoted an English judge while responding to a question on his differences with defence minister AK Antony. “Two reasonable men can hold opposite points of view and yet, both views could be reasonable.”
Admitting that the fight against Maoism is in a stalemate, he said security forces need more support. “We can break this stalemate only if we can support our security forces on the ground more effectively,” he said, adding that the impasse was expected when a plan was drawn up to deal with Maoism.